A career gap can occur for many reasons: having a baby, caring for an older family member, getting laid off, and so on. While the reasons may vary, what is consistent for everyone who has taken significant time away from work is that it’s tough to reenter the workforce. You want to rejoin the job market, but it’s intimidating. Maybe you feel as if your skills are no longer relevant or that you’ve lost contact with anyone who could help you find a job, and then you still have to explain the gap between jobs. However, despite all these challenges, getting back to work is possible, especially if you’re prepared.
- Gain New Skills
You can nail an interview, write a great resume, and even convey your gap time as a rejuvenation period that will benefit your new role, but you won’t land the job if you don’t have the skills. Especially if you have been out of work for a long time, it’s essential to brush up on old skills and gain new ones.
Take a look at your industry or area of expertise to determine what kinds of skills employers are looking for in hires. Then, take classes or work toward new certifications in those areas. This may cost money, so budget carefully. Make sure the benefits of taking a class or getting a certificate are worth the monetary costs. Once you have those new skills, add them to your updated resume.
- See What You’ve Been Missing
Whether or not it makes sense financially to take classes, you can still do your homework. Research your industry and career to find out what’s new. What has happened since you last had a job? Are there recent trends or developments you should be able to discuss with employers?
Start your research online, looking for news stories about your industry. To get more in-depth information and insights, consider subscribing to trade or industry publications. You may also be able to find relevant journals or magazines at your library, where you can read for free.
- Reconnect With Old Contacts
Another way to get up to speed on your industry is to reconnect with your network. This will also help you find open positions and leads on jobs. It may have been a while, but people will be glad to hear from you if your past working relationships were positive. Here are some ways to reconnect:
- Get on social media and track down your old network. Send messages on LinkedIn. Follow and retweet relevant people on Twitter.
- Give shout-outs to those who have had career achievements since you last spoke.
- Rely on mutual friends. If you have a friend you kept in touch with who is still in the industry, ask them to get you in the door.
- Offer something in return if you can, so you’re not just asking for a professional favor. This could be anything from a client lead to an interesting resource.
- Craft Your Narrative
The reason you left the workforce will come up as you begin job searching, but you can control the narrative. You should be honest about the reason, but that doesn’t mean you need to provide every detail.
Look for the positives in your time away from work. Highlight any of the ways your time off makes you more employable. Did you have unique experiences? Did you learn new skills or face any challenges? Share the story you want employers to hear.
- Manage Your Reputation
Before you begin the job hunt, give your reputation a polish. These days, employers are more likely than not to look you up on social media. You can contact a professional reputation management service to do things like remove your name from Google if you have serious concerns.
If not, simply do a sweep of your social media accounts to make sure they depict you in a good light. Remove old pictures or posts that are embarrassing or highlight aspects of your life you don’t want an employer to see. Start posting about industry-relevant topics to craft a knowledgeable reputation.
Getting Back On the Job Market Doesn’t Have to Be Overwhelming
The thought of returning to work may be daunting, especially if you have been out for years, but it is doable. Boost your confidence by remembering when you were a valuable employee in the workforce. You can be that person again. Use these steps, do the homework, and you’ll be back to work in no time.